Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 July 2019

Iran foreign minister in India for talks after US sanctions

India was Iran's top oil client after China, but halted imports after Washington reimposed sanctions

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj (R) poses for photos with Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif prior to a meeting in New Delhi on May 14, 2019. AFP
Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj (R) poses for photos with Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif prior to a meeting in New Delhi on May 14, 2019. AFP

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will hold talks with his counterpart in the Indian capital on Tuesday after New Delhi stopped purchases of Iranian oil this month in response to renewed US sanctions.

India was Iran's top oil client after China, but halted imports after Washington reimposed sanctions on Iran and later withdrew waivers which had allowed eight nations, including India, to import some Iranian oil.

"India is one of our most important partners, economic, political and regional," Mr Zarif told Reuters' partner ANI on Monday before talks with Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj.

"We have regular consultations with India on various issues and I'm here to have consultations with my counterpart on most recent developments in the region as well as our bilateral relations," he said.

Washington wants to block Iran's oil exports after US President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 accord between Iran and six world powers to curb Tehran's nuclear programme.

"Unfortunately the United States has been escalating the situation unnecessarily. We do not seek escalation but we have always defended ourselves," Mr Zarif said.

The sanctions have more than halved Iran's oil exports to 1 million barrels per day (bpd) or less, from a peak of 2.8 million bpd last year. Exports could drop to as low as 500,000 bpd from May, an Iranian official told Reuters this month.

Iran is insisting on exporting at least 1.5 million bpd of oil as a condition for staying in an international nuclear deal, sources with knowledge of Iran-EU talks said on Monday.

Updated: May 14, 2019 04:23 PM

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